Jordan is a special place for many reasons. One of them is the level of trust, faith and goodwill people frequently display towards each other, whether friend or stranger.
A Chinese restaurant opened up in mid-January near my apartment here in Amman. Last week, my roommate and I stopped by out of curiosity, just to see the menu. I spoke briefly with a Chinese woman there, whose husband turned out to be the chef. His cooking, she informed me, was excellent, and my roommate and I agreed we’d have to eat there one day.
Last night, that same roommate and I went to the local vegetable and fruit market for groceries. The vendor there asked us if by any chance we knew about the new Chinese restaurant up the street. When we told him we did, he asked if we wouldn’t mind delivering a set of keys, as he believed they belonged to the woman who worked there. If they weren’t hers, we could call him and he would send a boy to fetch them from us. I looked at the keychain he held up–a flash drive, two car keys, and several others.
We bought our vegetables and set off, keys in hand, to the restaurant. They indeed belonged to the Chinese woman, and both shock and relief were evident on her face when we returned them. The flash drive contained personal photos, and the keys were to her car and apartment and to the restaurant.
What’s special is not necessarily the events that took place but the fact that they are not unusual. As in any country, not every person in Jordan has a heart of gold. But overall, people I’ve met here have been trusting and willing if not determined to help each other, from offering directions to fixing flat tires, no matter the effort required.
Other non-work highlights from this week included washing a blanket in a bathtub by means of the stomping technique, since the blanket did not fit in the washing machine, and being awed by the extravagance of different stores’ Valentine’s Day displays, most of which included life-sized teddy bears and balloon arches (right).